Tragedy = Wake Up Call - Sparkers

Friday, October 07, 2011

I've been seriously committed to my health and weight loss journey for over a year now, and I've had wonderful results. With the unexpected death of my Aunt Karen this week, I've lost sight of my committment, motivation, and focus.

Karen was 61, and not the picture of health by any means. She was overweight, a smoker with COPD, an uncontrolled diabetic with high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and she had a debilitating mental illness which led her to isolate herself from so many who cared about her.

Near as the doctors can tell, Karen choked on a Frito in her bathroom and was deprived of oxygen too long for her brain to do anything more than allow her heart to beat. On her third day in the hospital, the family made the decision to remove her from life support, and she died peacefully 15 minutes later with her sons, sisters, and me by her side. Saddest thing I've ever seen in my life, watching the life leave her while tears, grief, guilt, and regret filled those who cared about her.

Her death should be a lesson to me, and to all of us. You can't abuse your body and mind like that and live a long HEALTHY life. You just can't. Any of us who think we can are just kidding ourselves.

But, being a main source of support for my cousins, my mother, my grandmother, and my aunt through this last week has taken its toll on me emotionally. My family turned to me as a calming influence and as a main planner in her funeral, which I think is the highest compliment a family can pay you - to trust you to take care of them and the details. But, in being their for them, I've done the opposite of what I need for myself and my health, and I know better than that.

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to do anything I can for those I love. Anything they need. And, I'll continue to do anything they need until they are all okay. But I need to find those pesky rascals - Committment, Motivation, and Focus, and start taking better care of myself.

I'm proud of myself that I seem to have completely kicked the emotional eating habit that held my hand while I ate myself to severe morbid obesity. I haven't binged on anything and have maintained my calorie goals through all this. However, I haven't seriously exercised in 4 days, and I haven't gotten more than 6 hours a night of sleep since then either and, as a result of that and the emotional stuff going on, I'm just exhausted.

Well, today is the end of that. I'm getting in 60 minutes of cardio and strength training today no matter what, and tomorrow before Karen's funeral (after which there will be all sorts of fattening food, I'm sure), I'm going to run at least a mile and eat a healthy breakfast so I can resist all the cakes and pies and casseroles later.

I know this blog is morbid, but I'm so glad I have sparkpeople as a place to write it, because it's so cathartic to get these feelings out instead of stuffing them down with a cheeseburger and fries. And, I sincerely appreciate those who will read it and take it to heart.

Please Sparkers, let my Aunt Karen's death be a wake up call to us. We have to take care of ourselves so we'll be around to take care of others, and so our children and parents won't have to sit in a room and prematurely try to decide what color and type of flowers we want at our funerals, and what music we'd want played, and what background image we'd want on our funeral programs, and whether or not they'd want to witness our cremations.

We need to take charge of our health and the health of our relationships, and we need to make ourselves the most important thing in our lives, so we have a better chance at living a happy, healthy, and LONG life, and we need to start now, and never stop. Ever. And we need to pass blogs like this around to those we care about, so they could read how the end of their lives will likely be if they don't.

Please share this blog with your loved ones, for me and my Aunt Karen.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • no profile photo CD5738038
    Tears in my eyes reading this. You are allowed to grieve, so don't worry about the few days of not working out and poor sleep. My thoughts are with you.
    3472 days ago
    Not sure how or why you connected with me on SP, but I am so glad you did. My condolences for you and your family for the loss of Aunt Karen. Thank you for being so brutally honest. It is definitely a wake up call for me also.
    3472 days ago
    Stacie, my heart goes out to you. I think its a natural thing to want to hibernated after a loved one died. My father died a few years ago and I didn't see him for years before he died. He was always in good health and his death was unexpected, I thought we would have plenty of time to catch up. I felt that he was present spiritually at the funeral and feel strongly that he didn't expect so many people so show up. He didn't think he really mattered. It helped me to have a private prayer by myself and say my last goodbyes to him. I didn't feel that he was around after that and it made me sad until I accepted that he is with God.

    3473 days ago
    It's amazing that you've managed to adhere to any of your goals in the thick of such upheaval. That's a real triumph, and a real tribute to the willpower I'm sure you once thought you didn't have. For the rest of your life, you can look at how much you have gone through this week, how stressed and overtaxed you have been in every way and think, "I didn't give in then, why would I give in now?"

    I'm so sorry for the loss of your aunt, but I'm so inspired by your strength. You can do it. You already have done it.
    3473 days ago
    I'm very sorry for your loss. I hope you have been able to get the rest you need, and made it through what must have been an emotionally challenging weekend. I'm keeping you and your family in my thoughts.
    3474 days ago
    Thanks everyone. She had COPD so bad that she couldn't take very deep breaths, so she occasionally gasped for breath while chewing food...thus the Frito. Can't say I'll ever have the urge to eat another Frito, that's for sure.
    3474 days ago
  • BETTA13
    So sorry for your family's loss. But I am also glad that you turned your situation around for the positive. Don't get me wrong, there is definitely a time for grieving. Allow yourself to feel. It doesn't (and didn't, YAY) have to involve food! = FREEDOM!

    There is also most definitely a lesson to be learned here. As a person (me)who works in hospice, I too have recognized the toll our bodies take and it doesn't have to be that way. I also get to see those who have taken care of themselves, living to be 99 and 104! By the way, the 104 man was walking up until his last week - without oxygen! Life CAN be full. Life can be healthy. But you have to stay active. Exercise is for your lungs and heart, not just for your thinness.

    Hugs and prayers to you and your family, Stacie.

    3476 days ago
    I am sorry for the loss of your Aunt and what you and your family are having to cope with. I appreciate this blog. The mental image of someone choking on a Frito is enough to make me stop and think.

    I am proud of you for handling this situation and keeping your health in mind when dealing with this stress. It would be sooo easy to let emotional eating take over for a few days but, you are taking steps to not let that occur. I am proud of you!!!

    Best wishes to you and your family.
    3476 days ago
    That is such an awful thing to happen. I remember all too well, when I was leaned on for two weeks while my Aunt died from brain cancer. I was the pillar for three cousins that had no one there to lean on.

    Later on when I finally could go home and be with my family, my back spasmed so bad that I had to go to the ER. Then they put me on muscle relaxants. It was a sad, sad time for me. Unlike you, I didn't get back on the treadmill, walks, exercise. I steadily gained all the weight that I lost back.

    I admire you for getting up and brushing yourself off and going for it. You are truly a strong person and no wonder they would depend on you.

    I am so very sorry for your loss and I wish you and your family well.

    Continue your journey to health. You deserve it.
    3477 days ago
  • TERRY631
    So sorry for your loss and your blog was completely written from the heart. Thoughts are with you.
    3477 days ago
    Im so sorry for your loss. However, you should be proud of how much you have gained from this. It sounds like you are on the right path! Prayers being sent your way!
    3477 days ago
    Stacie - I am so proud of you! Look at how far you have come in your journey! I find you inspiring and positive and just a wonderful person. I am sure the last few days have taken a toll on you, but you have still used that time to reflect on what it all means to you and your journey! Keep up the great work on you .. and I am sending you *Hugs* and many prayers!
    3477 days ago
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